Life expectancy is the average length of time persons, defined by age, sex, ethnic group, and socioeconomic status in a given society, are expected to live. The older population is the most rapidly increasing segment of the U.S. population. Since 1900 the number of older adults has increased over ten times and their percentage of the population has more than tripled. This increase is projected to continue at a rate of 1.3 percent annually until 2010. (Torrez, p.132)
The number of ethnic minority elderly persons will grow much more rapidly than the number of White elderly people over the next 50 years. The percentage of older adults in the United States that is made up of Blacks and other non-White minorities will increase from 10.2 in 1990 to 15.3 in 2020 and 21.3% in 2050. (Fried p.4) In 2005, 9.4 percent of African Americans, 9.3 percent of Asian Americans, and 6.5 percent of Hispanics were older than 65. The leading causes of death among the elderly are chronic diseases, notably cardiovascular disease and cancer. Other major causes of death include: Chronic respiratory diseases such s emphysema and chronic bronchitis; diseases common among the elderly such as Alzheimer's and renal diseases and infectious diseases and injuries.
There are continuing disparities in the burden of illness and death experienced by African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, and American Indians/Alaska Natives, as compared to the U.S. population as a whole. A statistical review of the disproportionate toll of certain diseases on racial and ethnic populations highlights the need for prevention, treatment and resources toward reducing the loss of life. The health profiles of many racial and ethnic minorities reflect the social inequality evident in the United States. The poor economic and environmental conditions of groups such as African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans are manifested in high morbidity and morality rates for these groups. The leading causes of death among the elderly are chronic diseases, notably cardiovascular disease and cancer. Other major causes of death include: Chronic respiratory diseases such s emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Diseases common among the elderly such as Alzheimer's and renal diseases and infectious diseases and injuries. African Americans are the largest populations of color in the United States, only about 8 percent of them are over 65 years of age, compared to 14 percent of the white population. The life expectancy for African American men and women is 64.9 and 74 years, respectively, compared with the life expectancy of 74.1 years for white men and 79.5 years for white women. The leading chronic diseases causing death among blacks are the same as those for the white population, but the rates among blacks are consistently higher, often much higher. For example, black men die from strokes at almost twice the rate of all men in the total population; they also have higher rates of nonfatal strokes (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1991). Black men also have a higher risk of cancer than other men--25% higher for all cancers and 45% higher for lung cancer. In addition, only 38% of blacks with cancer survive five years after diagnosis, compared to 50% of whites. Diabetes is one-third more prevalent among blacks than among whites, and the complications of diabetes--heart disease, stroke. African American elders face a wide range of social and political barriers to health care: their lower utilization of health services; reduced access to health care; longer reported delays in obtaining health care due to cost; poorer health status and self-reports of health and higher rates of mortality. American Indians refer to indigenous people of the United States, including Eskimos and Alaskan Natives. Their life expectancy is 67 years, approximately 8 years less than for the white population. Life expectancy is generally lower in nonreservation areas....
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